Dante Chinni's April 27 Opinion piece "The new economy's biggest product: an enduring underclass?" was an on-target assessment of economic life and death in the Ohio Valley. From the height of the Industrial Revolution through the rise and fall of organized labor to present day, the people of the valley - men and women who paid taxes, made a better life for their children, toiled in steaming factories, died in coal mines - have been little more than cannon fodder for both political parties. These great people - immigrants and their descendants - not only bought into the promise of the American dream, they created it.
When they haven't been ignored by those in power, they have been lied to. The ineffective state legislators who live there need to get real jobs (at Wal-Mart, perhaps) and cease blathering about economic redevelopment. Hype from local politicians touting tourism jobs might sound good to some, but most know it takes four minimum-wage, part-time jobs to match one lost in the mills and mines. Many no longer believe in "the promise." If their region is to die on the battleground of the new world economy, it should at least be allowed to expire with dignity.
Somehow, the people of the Ohio Valley will survive - without the "help" politicians have been promising for decades.
Regarding your April 27 article "Should Noncitizens Vote?": I applaud giving local voting rights to legal immigrants. Instead of encouraging the status quo in politics, which cynics claim is controlled by rich special interests, we should level the playing field. Being able to participate in the political process here would empower many immigrants who have left lives where they had no stake in the political process. Passing along this power might even encourage more immigrants to become citizens, or at least actively participate in civic life. We should plant the little seeds of real democracy one vote at a time.
Should noncitizens vote? I think this question has an obvious answer. Should nonpilots fly? Citizenship is not available to everyone and, therefore, not everyone should be able to vote. This is part of our democracy, which doesn't create a free-for-all government. Voting is a privilege and a responsibility, not some sort of global right.
Your April 27 article "The term-limit movement of the '90s stalls" reports that the term-limits movement, "the great political revolt that rolled into California and spilled across 21 states since the early 1990s," has reached its "high-tide mark" and "may be ebbing." We've heard this before - basically, every two weeks since the modern movement started in the early 90s. The article notes that in several states where voters passed term limits, career politicians have overturned the voters' decision, either unilaterally (Idaho) or through the courts (Oregon). But even at the "high-tide mark," politicians opposed term limits, sought to prevent their passage, and, once term limits had been passed, sought to kill them.
But term limits remain popular with the public. That's why politicians got clobbered at the California ballot box a couple of years ago when they tried to gut the term-limits law there. Only 24 states have an initiative process that would allow citizens to place term limits on their state legislators.
If citizens in all 50 states could do so, there would be a lot more states with term limits. As there will be.
Senior Fellow, US Term Limits
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